Principles for better remote facilitation

Improve your dialogues and achieve better outcomes

The challenges we faced

As we were preparing for a series of workshops, we faced some challenges that we had to overcome to create the best environment for people to have a constructive dialogue.

Principles we learnt

Here are some principles we’ve learnt and applied over the past few months.

Be patient and considerate

People are still adjusting to working remotely. People feels your patience and consideration, and in return they engage more fully with the dialogue. We’ve found that a three-hour session gives you the best use of people’s time while keeping them engaged. Any longer and people will disengage pretty rapidly.

Use the minimum denominator of tech available

Use the technology that is accessible by everyone involved. In our case, we facilitated a few sessions over phone, and surprisingly, we got the best feedback from that! Of course it was challenging, but it was worth it because it was inclusive.

Prepare, then wing it

It’s important to prepare a session but be prepared for it to go differently. If it’s your first time facilitating online, you might be nervous, and that’s okay. Do a dry run with an ally who can give you tips on how to improve.

Rehearse your use of tech

This one’s easy — do a dry run before your workshop so that you can make sure the technology and tools you’ll use will work how you need them to.

Touch-in as co-facilitators away from the group

The more people involved, the more facilitators you’ll need. Checking-in at regular intervals will help you stay on the same page. To avoid confusion, we agreed to use a different tool than the one we used for facilitation. This helped us avoid distracting workshop participants.

Know who’s onboard

Don’t leave anyone behind. Check how the group is going at regular points. This will help people feel supported and encourage them ask for support when they need it.

Use the best tool for the job

Use tools for the purpose you’re aiming for. You don’t need to use Miro for ideating if a simpler tool like Groupmap will do. One the other hand, if you’re mapping the future experience or a journey map, Miro is probably better suited.

Final note

Design facilitation is a privilege — you get to help others have constructive dialogues about important issues. Treat it as a privilege, and in return, people will be engaged and put their best foot forward.





Human-centred designer. ThinkPlace. Designing for positive outcomes.

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Abram El-Sabagh

Human-centred designer. ThinkPlace. Designing for positive outcomes.